Matrix Amplification

Matrix Amplification to the rescue!

New kid on the block in July 2010 was Matrix Amplification who without intention solved the problem many guitar players have: how to power your digital guitar rig live.

Before Matrix, almost the entire PA Market on budget level has since the introduction of the Mackie SRM 450 been heading towards active cabinets.

It just seemed so much easier and the amount of independent sound guys still preaching that cab with separate power amp sounds better had started to sound like vinyl record enthusiast trying to convince us to ditch the iPod…

This way of thinking has found it’s way into guitar rigs as well, just look at Atomic amps, Tech 21 and I’m sure, many more brands!

The problem with power amps

The problem with power amps for guitar players are:

  1. Weight
  2. Rack mounted
  3. More leads to connect than active cabs.

Personally I’d like to list the problems in the actual order above, the weight being the main problem, extra leads something I can deal with.

Since the Axe-Fx is rack mounted, number 2 on the problems list is actually only a good thing.

The matrix xt800, or the GT 800FX, which is basically the same thing, solves the weight problem by being less than 4 kg!

With its 2 x 400W or 800W bridged, this is loud enough next to any drummer, no matter if you run guitar cabs or FRFR.

Matrix Amplification History

Starting out designing power amps for line array systems (theaters and touring rigs use this) the xt800 was originally intended to drive the tweeters in a theater rig.

Thankfully, Spy Tunes member DADA (see comment below) who was using the Axe-Fx and seeking more power and less weight tried the matrix xt800 with the Axe Fx and found a marriage made in heaven.

After his feedback and further tweaks, Matrix quickly re branded the xt800 into a GT800 FX and voila: the perfect amp to drive your digital guitar rig!

We now had a small, light weight power amp that sounds great with the Axe-Fx.

How do Matrix do it?

So how do Matrix cram in 800, seriously punchy watts into a 1U rack space weighing less than 4 kg?

Seriously precise engineering that’s how, check this video from Matrix and then try that with your soldering iron!

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15 thoughts on “Matrix Amplification

  1. Pingback: Fractal Audio Review part 2 FRFR | Spy Tunes

    1. Guru Post author

      2 Daedalus s81 seems like a good plan.

      If you want wedges Daedalus do that as well.

      If you want guitar cabs, DrZ Zbest.

      But it’s down to style of amps when you choose guitar cab.

      I use Daedalus.

      1. gpz

        OK! Thanks.
        A for the Atomic series, do you confirm that one or two PASSIVE cabs (or wedges) from Atomic would perfectly suit the GT 800FX?

        1. Guru Post author

          Yeah I haven’t tried the atomic wedges, but i have tried the mono block, which is what’s inside the powered wedges.

          I definitely think you’d be better off with a matrix in the same rack as the axe, then using passive speakers, maybe the atomics are good.

          The great thing is that you can with the matrix go and try a few different speakers to see what suits you best.

          Fractal offer buy and try for two weeks so you have nothing to loose. I can also verify that they do deliver on that, I returned my mono block, no problems.

          Be careful not to blow them though, it’s 800W mono, don’t wack it on full blast instantly :-)

          Also, if you go to a gig or rehearsal studio where they all ready have cabs you only bring your one rack, great if you travel a lot.

          Do you have an Axe Fx yet or are you considering?

        2. gpz

          Long story short: I ended in the Axe-Fx II (the brand new Axe-Fx) waiting list on G66 after ordering an Ultra several months ago.
          So I am waiting my new unit. The Axe-Fx first gen are now discontinued.

          I don’t know yet what power amp/speaker to choose. I have to admit that I like the idea of having the amp in a 1U rack. But since I’m kinda new in this kind of gear, I am researching/studying the topic.

          Thanks for your help

          1. gpz

            Nothing special! Just a Tele plugged into a VOX AD15 ;)
            The Ultra (now The II) was a way to “reward” myself. My goal was to re-learn the guitar, both practice and theory, and then get a new gear. I stopped playing the guitar for several years and restarted from scratch, almost. I learned a lot of stuff with the Conspiracy 2!

          2. Guru Post author

            Cool man, I love vox amps, almost only use that on the axe fx, but then switch to clean fender twin with compression, ah the joys of the axe… Try using the axe with a power amp, into your vox speaker and see if you can get the same sound :)

          3. gpz

            Yes but the Vox is not FRFR. Before buying a speaker/amp solution, I planed to plug the Axe into the Vox of course and also into a pair of (very) small monitoring speakers that I already own. Just to see how it sounds and if I want to invest in a more robust FRFR amp/cab solution.

          4. Guru Post author

            Well you’re in for a treat, hours of experimenting, almost everything you do sounds great.

            Try it out with a guitar cab first, this is so you know how to set the axe, just like an amp.

            Do this with a separate power amp, if you use the vox power amp then you are basically just using the vox.

  2. DADA

    Hi Spytunes,
    Nice to read you like the Matrix amps. I just have to add some info about the difference between the GT800FX and the XT800. Besides the difference in name the GT has an better OP amp (studio quality). higher input sensitivity (especialy for modeling gear) lowered first stage fan noise (for bedroom playing) and better connectivity. Result is that the GT reacts and breaths very close to a tube amp. Last but not least the unknown guitarist initiated the first contact with Matrix is me, DADA. Maybe you can add this to your nice review:-)

    1. Guru Post author

      Nice one!

      That’s brilliant, the best gear has always been developed by guitar players and manufacturers working together, you’ve been part of that, awesome!

      I’ve made changes as suggested, thanks for the feedback and clarification.

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